A gift guide for book lovers to gift experiences instead of gifts–these perfect day packages will make it a blissful holiday and very Merry Christmas for the bookworm in your life!
“What do you want for Christmas?” I was asked this last week, and I froze like a deer in headlights. Not one thing popped into my mind.
Well, that’s not true. One thing did pop into my mind:
When I thought about what I wanted—really wanted—it was more time. Time to spend browsing through a bookstore without feeling rushed. Time to wander through Whole Foods instead of marching through my shopping list. Time to have nothing on the agenda but reading a book and taking a walk and cooking a very nice dinner for myself.
None of that is expensive, but all of that is elusive.
That’s why I’ve always loved this John Burroughs quote:
“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”
Since it’s gift guide season, I wanted to do something a little different and share 3 ways you can give the book lovers in your life the gift of an experience.
I know I’m not the only one who feels like the things they most love get pushed into the margins of the day. And I’m sure we all know someone who works hard and selflessly for others and deserves one whole day of their own favorite things.
These gift ideas are perfect for:
- The busy mom or dad who has a hard time relaxing until everything is “done”
- The constantly-behind writer who wants less rush and more joy in her writing practice
- The book lover who never has as much time as he wants to binge read
- The blogger or creative who wants to learn more skills but feels guilty spending money on herself
- The person who has it all, or who values experiences over things
The beauty of this is also that it’s also much more meaningful and thoughtful to put together an experience than it is to just buy something off a shelf or click a buy button. It shows you care about the deepest needs of the person and that you’re willing to do a little more legwork to put together a day that will soothe their souls. (Of course, I love gifts as much as they next person, and most of these experiences do involve buying and wrapping gifts for under the tree, but I love the idea of putting it all together in these “perfect day” packages!)
3 blissful experiences to give book lovers this holiday
(By the way, if you do end up liking any of these ideas, would you consider purchasing them through the links below? It supports the many hours of work this team of two puts into bringing you free articles!)
Experience #1: A Cozy Reading Day
Who doesn’t want a full day to slowly browse a bookstore and then curl up on the couch to binge read your finds? Here are the essential items you’ll need to give the book lover in your life A Cozy Reading Day gift package.
First, clear the day for your book lover. As part of your gift, you should include the cost of anything that might be needed to clear the day, whether it’s a babysitter, takeout, gas money, or a vacation day.
A cozy reading blanket
I adore this blanket (you’re probably tired of seeing it in all my photos!), and that says a lot since I am a bit of a blanket snob. But it’s soft; it’s beautiful; and it always manages to fall just so over an armchair. It’s more than I thought I’d ever spend on a blanket (it was a very generous gift from my mother!), but it makes me happy every single day.
Here it is, in action:
A pretty new mug
Your bookworm can’t have a cozy reading day without a giant mug of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate! And having a new one just makes this literary day more special. I love a simple white mug like this one but have the hardest time resisting the mugs at Anthropologie, especially ones like this.
A gift card to a bookstore
Half the fun of this is in spending the day slowly browsing through a bookstore and then coming home and cracking open your new books right then. Give them the gift of a morning at a favorite local bookstore, or if staying in is more their thing, an online book browsing session with an e-gift card.
An ereader, maybe even preloaded with books
I’d go with this waterproof ereader, because I know someone who once spilled a full glass of water on a 2-day-old MacBook. So if you also married an oaf, have kids, or just do a lot of coffee-drinking while reading, go for the waterproof version! Extra credit if you run a bath for your bookworm and let them read while soaking.
An ongoing subscription for even more books
Encourage your book lover to take more time for the things they love by giving them a gift that will extend past their Cozy Reading Day. You can gift them either an ongoing ebook subscription or help them squeeze books back into their daily schedule with an audiobook subscription. Use this link to get them two free audiobooks; bonus points if you pick out a book you know they’ll love!
Experience #2: The perfect writing day
Again, buy your writer the gift of time by outsourcing or rescheduling any daily responsibilities they have. If nothing else, you can hold down the fort at home for the day so they can have some time to themselves!
Writers rave about this writing software, and it might just be the infusion of something new + fun that your favorite writer needs to bring back the joy and excitement into her writing practice. You can download Scrivener 2 here or view their full product line here.
A coffee shop gift card
Load it up with as much money as necessary for them to spend long hours writing at their favorite coffee shop! Or, try this set of 8 Starbucks gift cards with $10 loaded on each and use them as Writing Passes–anytime your writer really needs to get away and write for a few hours, they can wave the card, and you’ll promise to hold things down while they treat themselves to a big coffee, a baked good, and some writing time. Doesn’t that sound like the best kind of bliss you could give to someone you love?
A pretty new notebook for writing
It’s a fact: a pretty new notebook is 10,000 times more likely to make you want to write than an old one. And so THREE pretty new notebooks are guaranteed to get your writer writing. I especially love these classic notebooks from Rifle Paper Co.
Pretty pens to inspire writing
This Kate Spade pen completely brings me back to being 8 years old and clicking through all the colors to write each individual letter. Help your writer friend bring that same spirit of fun and playfulness into her writing with this pretty pen. Or, if you want something even more elegant, gift her this gorgeous pen.
A nice lunch or dinner out
Your writer has worked hard, so let her treat herself to a nice lunch out. And for dinner? You’ll handle it, or you can include a gift card for a nice dinner out, too. We gift Visa gift cards a lot in my family since we love how versatile they are, but you can always opt for the more personalized option of a gift card to your writer’s favorite restaurant!
Experience #3: A day to learn something new
I know there are so many things I want to learn, but I never seem to have the time for all the classes I want to take, skills I want to learn, and hobbies I want to try out. (That’s a little less catchy than that John Burroughs quote, but let’s go with it anyway.) Make sure you include as part of your gift the promise that you’ll make all her responsibilities melt away for just one day.
Food Blogger Pro or Sticky Blogging
These are the only two blogging classes I recommend–I’m super picky about online classes, but I love how these two complement each other. If you have a friend or family member with a blog who’d love to roll up her sleeves and learn more, sign her up for one of these! Food Blogger Pro only opens a few times a year, but you can sign up for the waiting list here. Sticky Blogging also opens only a few times a year, but you can sign your friend up for this free intro class if she wants to get started right away!
A blog or website domain
If you know someone who needs a creative outlet and wants something inexpensive she can do from her couch, why not gift her a blog or website? Whether she uses it to finally get that side hustle going or just to have a place to write, share recipes, or journal about the everyday, a blog is a super fun way to bring more creativity into your everyday. To get her started, set her up with hosting and a website domain (I use BlueHost, one of the most popular hosting services, and love it!) and a WordPress account. But leave all the fun of customizing the design and writing to your friend!
A photography class or camera
It’s been on my bucket list for years to learn how to take decent photos. Maybe you know someone who’d also love to capture everyday family moments, special meals, and the little beauties of life? If so, sign her up (or buy her a gift card) to one of the great photography classes offered on Skillshare. Or, if it’s in the budget, gift her a starter camera set. This is the camera I use and adore–it’s perfect as a first camera for anyone looking to take better pictures at home.
A conference or retreat
Sometimes getting together with others like you is the deepest infusion of happy. So why not give the gift of connection this year? Here’s a great list of 30 fantastic writer’s conferences to get you started.
A cooking class, pottery class, or other side hobby
I think any writer would love learning from James Patterson, any cook would love learning from Alice Waters, and any photographer would love learning from Annie Liebovitz. I’m a big believer in learning from the masters, which is why I love MasterClass. It’s a little hard to believe they have such incredible teachers and that the classes are so affordable–if anything, you’ll have a hard time choosing just one to gift! (Good thing there’s also the All-Access Pass for serial undeciders like me.) Skillshare also has a whole slew of great classes–I took a great marketing one with Seth Godin a few years ago. Hallelujah for the internet for letting us learn from pros without even having to put on pants!
Whatever experience you choose, I hope you create for someone that perfect day John Burroughs was talking about: one with enough time for all the good things.
What I’m Reading This Week
Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year (James Clear): I’ve been loving so many of James Clear’s articles lately, and here’s another good one to work through as your mind starts to turn to New Year’s resolutions.
Praise Agatha Christie, Murder-Mystery Pioneer and the Original Gone Girl (Kristen Yoonsoo Kim for Broadly): “On December 3, 1926, 36-year-old Agatha Christie went missing. Her car was found next to a lake, and she had left a bag of clothes and an expired license at the scene. By then, Christie was already a high-profile writer and her disappearance roused suspicion of foul play and ignited a manhunt that included 15,000 volunteers, biplanes, and bloodhounds.” Aren’t you just dying to find out what happened? (Bad pun; no regrets.)
Cooking’s New Minimalism (Rebecca Flint Marx): Simple is back. But what does that actually look like in our home cooking?
Unpublished Writers and Websites: Should You Have One and What Should It Say? (Jane Friedman): Websites are essential. But what do you actually write on it?
An Unabashed Appreciation of Smitten Kitchen, the Ur-Food Blog (Emily Gould for The New Yorker): My favorite magazine plus one of our authors at Stonesong equals hooray! (Oh, and Smitten Kitchen Every Day makes a pretty great Xmas gift, too.).
What We’re Eating
After a full week of triangulating the Midwest, East Coast, and Mid-Atlantic, we are on terra firma and trying to rebalance the percentage of our bodies composed of gravy.
Sunday: I made a meatloaf! I don’t think I’ve ever made a meatloaf, but I used a recipe from this book and served it with a beet salad and roasted red pepper brussels sprouts. It was healthy; it was delicious; it was like, why can’t I pull this off all the time?
Monday: Spaghetti and pesto with roasted broccoli. We were supposed to eat a lot of broccoli and a bit of spaghetti, but then we ate the entire tray of broccoli, the entire pound of spaghetti, and passed out to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. #MondayMotivation?
Tuesday: Back on the road to NYC, so whatever’s cooking at my Yaya’s!
Thursday: Shrimp sushi lettuce wraps, which are not raw at all but taste like sushi, eat like a lettuce wrap, and require unlimited amounts of wasabi mayo. But it’s a salad, so we’re good.
Friday: We’re celebrating a friend’s engagement, so bar food! Yay.
By the way: Jarrett and I are leaving on Saturday for 8 days in El Salvador, off the grid, with Habitat for Humanity. But I have a small little something planned for you for next week anyway! In the meantime, send prayers and good vibes that my noodle arms survive mixing cement and that pasteles are served at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.